Camino 2013 – Day 4 – Belorado to Atapuerca

I had woken up earlier than planned today after a decent sleep. There was no shuffling and I was refreshed. It wasn’t raining either, so maybe..just maybe..I will be a good day. After a delicious meal last night, I had agreed with Femke that we would leave together at around 6 and after a little breakfast, we left in the dark.

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We left with Michel also who I had met the evening before. I enjoyed walking with them. Michel is from France and had pretty good English. He has been to Ireland also for a few months improving his English.

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Today, the plan was to walk to San Juan de Ortega and see if I can make it further depending on the time. We heard it wasn’t a great place and when I said there was a rat found there a few months back, I think the decision was made to walk on. Today was tough on the legs. It was flat most of time, but there was a section around Villafranca Montes de Oca where it gets high. This section is one of the more difficult parts of the Camino with a 12km trek through nothing but woods and clay to San Juan de Ortega. What made it worse was the clay was now mud after the recent rain.
There were a number of small quiet towns we passed through in the morning, Tosantos. Villambistia, Espinosa del Camino but we walked by ourselves once we got to Villafranca. I enjoyed that as it was a chance to meet some new people. I met two guys from the US who were taking their time. They told me to slow down but there was no stopping me today. I was in a good mood after the rains of the last few days. That said my tendons at the back of my leg were acting up and I had the beginnings of a coldsore. I always get coldsores when I go abroad. The same thing happened last year.

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Further on, I met Bartak from Poland. He was a strange guy. He was wearing shorts and was carrying a massive backpack. I was stunned by its size and he was clearly having problems with it. He had opinions about who should be entitled to a compostela. He believed that only those who walk the full Camino should receive it. Controversial to say the least. He also asked if I could give him a few euros until the next stop off point but I had no money myself. I later found out he asked everyone who passed him by. Strange. I didn’t stay long talking to him and moved on. I could see the red coat of Michel further on in the woods before San Juan and I did my best to catch up, jumping over the red coated silt on the path. This part was tough going. My boots are pretty much ruined from the walking through it.

I catch up with Michel eventually before San Juan de Ortega and we walk at a decent pace. It is only 11am at this stage and we had covered over 20km in 4 hours. After arriving at San Juan, we meet James from England and Tanya from Canada. I had met James in Ventosa on my first day and we all had an Estrella before setting off. The Albergue here wasn’t open at this stage so myself and Michel moved on. We could even make it to Atapuerca at this rate although my heart was set on Agés, the next stop off point. Atapuerca was another 6km away at this stage, 2 hours.
After talking to Michel about Ireland, the French way, and Le Puy route, we reach Agés. I decide to call it a day here and said I would catch Michel and Tanya (who had caught up with us) in Burgos, another 15km away. There are three Albergues here in this town and none were open until after 12. I sat here for ten minutes waiting for movement or other peregrinos but nothing was open, so I moved on. I was far too early. Atapuerca was another 2km so I moved on.
The albergue in Atapuerca was just opening and got a bottom bunk bed again. James stopped here along with Franco who I had met the evening before. He carried his bags in a trailer strapped to his sides. It was fairly unusual but it was second nature to him. Femke had stayed in Ages with a few others I was told.
So now I’m settled into my daily routine of washing clothes, shower, find something to eat and a glass of vino to drink and sleep early. It becomes second nature in time. There is some wifi here also so I can update the blog.
Tomorrow is a short trip (19km) to Burgos, so hopefully I will get there before 11am to see some of the city.
Oh and I have the beginnings of what is called a ‘camino family’. This is basically a group of people who meet at the end of a days walking. People from around the world; South Korea, UK, Hungary, Italy, Canada and Ireland. I seem to be staying in the same albergues as the crew from UCD. They are good fun though.
Now I am off for a bite to eat in the local cafe as there the kitchen here is tiny.


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